‘The Suicide Squad’ review: Gunn breaks DC mold right

I love the rain, it’s like angels are splooging all over us!

It’s been a long time since I’ve said these words, but I’m not afraid to announce them today: goddamn, I loved this DC movie!

When you are a firm believer in things like alchemy and magic, you tend to find the wonder and kismet of putting together such wonderful things. Milk and chocolate syrup? Chocolate milk! French fries and a vanilla milkshake? A unique dip that just works for fries! How about pickle juice and whiskey? Who’d-a thunk it?

Now with all the wizardry and magic combined, the powers at Warner Bros and DC conjured the insanely smart mixture of creative genius James Gunn with a property that was literally on its last breath from being erased from existence. With those powers combined (no, I’m not summoning Captain Planet), the gods of comic book adaptations smiled and gave a nod of approval and gave us 2021’s The Suicide Squad.

Oh my god, we’ve got a freaking kaiju up in this shit!

As the film drops this Friday, there’s no doubt that it has been one of the most anticipated films of the last two years. Announcing that James Gunn, the mad scientist behind the success of Marvel’s underdog smash hit of 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy, was attached as director changed the studio’s image almost immediately.

But with the final product now in theaters, how does the film measure up? Are fans going to see same patterns from Gunn from previous films? Or does the Master create gold -again- with a property about a bunch of unknown heroes in a really big universe?

The answer is simply, yes.

I got road rage… in a bank.

The Suicide Squad follows Task Force X as they are dropped off at the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Led by both Colonel Rick Flag and Robert Dubois, aka Bloodsport, the team of unconventional “heroes” take on an interdimensional entity that may just throw a big enough wrench in their fun. The film stars the incredible talents of Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman, Sylvester Stallone, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, and Peter Capaldi.

One of the obvious differences from the first film in 2016 is tone. By far, one of the greatest things that James Gunn does for this franchise is recognized that it’s based on a comic book, and shouldn’t be taken so seriously. The fact that Gunn has no problem reminding moviegoers to not get attached to any particular characters is a huge indicator that this is going to be a free-for-all. Anything can happen, and quite honestly, just about everything does happen. A DC film that knows how to have fun is something that 2019’s Shazam gave us, and I’m glad to see it occur again.

But a great tone is nothing without the people who make it feasible, and the cast for this movie is second to none. With performers like Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller returning to help ground the film, we get amazing performances by actors Idris Elba, John Cena (never thought I’d hear myself say that one out loud), Peter Capaldi, and the vocal talents of Sylvester Stallone. One of my personal favorite characters was Polka-Dot Man, played expertly played by the amazing David Dastmalchian. The growth in characters we’ve seen and not seen are beautiful and bright, and I’m so glad they got their time in the sun.

I’m a superhero!

Acting aside, one of the biggest improvements this film creates is allowing us as fans to see real, genuine character growth. Also written by Gunn, The Suicide Squad holds so many great moments that pay off a character’s arc. From King Shark to Peacemaker, we get a chance to see brand new characters that we’ve never seen before blossom and become favorites in the span of roughly two hours. I genuinely thought I wasn’t going to like John Cena’s story arc, but by the third act, I was invested and ready to see how his portion of the journey was going to play out. You heard me correctly, the wrestler whom nobody seems to see knocks it out of the ballpark in a DC film. I know, right?

I asked a question earlier as to whether Gunn repeats similar patterns we’ve seen before or does he create gold like King Midas, and I answered with a yes. I meant it, and in a good way. First off, yes, we’ve seen Gunn take an unknown property and breathe life into it, obviously with Guardians of the Galaxy, but that doesn’t mean that the trick doesn’t work with other properties. The care and consideration the director has for this film really takes things up a notch, and truly shows the respect a filmmaker has for the project he’s working on. And yes, with that care and consideration, taking those unknowns and giving them a platform to be fully fleshed out and put in the best light tends to showcase the best. So, A plus B equals gold. It’s that simple.

Nom nom!

All in all, I really feel like we’re on the cusp of seeing the DCEU find its consistent voice. Every successful franchise has its own, and it resonates with every opening song to every final credit. The DCEU has had its hiccups in the past, but it’s finding its horizon, and finding its way into the sunlight. The Suicide Squad, although silly and bloody fun, shows the care and compassion a project can have when the studio finds a great creative mind to helm the project and gives the space to let them love on their project.

I’m anxious to see how future DCEU projects will evolve with the obvious success of this film, and I can’t wait to see what other wondrous and mind-blowing (both figuratively and literally) opportunities James Gunn has in store for the future.

Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

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